Cottage industries that sell coats and sweaters for dogs to wear during cool weather have fleeced the pockets of pet owners for years. The fact is, it’s hard to freeze a working dog to death on even the coldest days. But it’s quite easy to accidentally kill a hard-hunting dog on even a mildly warm day.
Every year dogs are put at risk for heat-related issues during August, September, and even Indian summer October hunts and field trials. However, if you know the signs and keep a close eye on your dog, you can safely enjoy warm, early-season days afield.
1) Oversize Tongue: Rapid, excessive panting with an extremely widened tongue that’s cupped at the end is an early indication of heat trouble. Bright pink or red mucous membranes and thick, clingy saliva are later signs of heat stress.
DO THIS: Find shade, take a break, and give your dog cool water.
2) Disorientation: An unsteady gait and glassy eyes are undeniable signs of heat stress. Vomiting or diarrhea could accompany these.
DO THIS: Get the dog into a cool pond and continually flush water over his body, then move him to an air-conditioned truck and get to a veterinarian immediately. Apply ice to the dog’s skin on the belly and inner thighs to help keep him cool during the ride to the vet.
3) Hot skin: Before hunting, familiarize yourself with your dog’s normal body temperature, as well as breathing and heart rates. This information will come in handy when you’re evaluating him in the field. Any dog with a body temperature over 104 degrees is in serious danger.
DO THIS: Periodically feel your dog’s inner thigh. If it’s hot, back off the activity.